Monday, January 19, 2015

Our First Apartment



Our First Apartment

700-square feet of bliss
and cockroaches.
We saw two in the tub
The size of guinea pigs.
I marveled and cowered.
You fed them to the turtles,
Until we released our pets at the Bronx Zoo.

The heat cranked
Incessantly in winter,
So we opened the windows
But in summer we snapped them
To shut out noisy drunks,
reeking garbage, filth, 
And potential burglars heard on the news.

We bought that hefty lock
For added protection.
The doorman buzzer
Buzzed just outside our entrance.
The garbage chute
Whooshed outside our kitchen.
And the TV buzzed from another apartment.

We rode our mountain bikes.
And bladed in Central Park,
Just 20 minutes away on the subway.
We found our favorite Chinese takeout,
Favorite Indian joint, best Kosher
Deli, and best-deal fruit stand.
We learned to cook well in our white kitchen.

The day we prepared our
Most ambitious dinner,
You saw the roach scurrying.
While trying to shield if from me,
You cut your thumb.
Blood splattered on our
White walls, and our now ruined gourmet meal.

I brought you to the ER to get stitches.

Those were the days.



This poem is for my husband, Stu. 
Happy Birthday! xo


51 comments:

  1. This poem brings back memories of my days living in New York City apartments and the adventures there. Although, I wasn't a teen, I can still relate. Well done.

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    1. Hi, Anne. I wasn't a teen. My previous poem is about me hanging out in Manhattan as a teen. This is about moving to Queens when I first got married. Where did you live?

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    2. I lived on the Upper East Side in NYC. I went to school in Manhattan and lived in an apartment. Stayed in NYC, for awhile and worked.

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    3. Must've been cool to live in Manhattan. I lived in Queens as a kid and then when I first got married. That's as close as I got. But I think the smaller feel is better for me. That's why I like Boston and Cambridge so much too.

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  2. I love this, so very real, and I'm sure means a lot to your husband, Theresa.

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    1. Thanks, Carole. It was fun remembering those first couple of years. We really did love it there, but being on the first floor gave us extra challenges!

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  3. Guinea pigs!!!! Now that would be a huge bug. You've created a great feel of youth and hopefulness found in young love.

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    1. Sheri, they were big, but I may have exaggerated a little. They were more like two inches long. But when you're naked, about to take a shower, and open the curtain....

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  4. I really like this poem, especially because it really brings out all the details of apartment life and city living. I can especially relate to the part about keeping the windows shut, even during the summer, to keep out burglars and the outdoor noises. And eeps, cockroaches! I haven't gotten any of those yet, but if you hear any bloodcurdling screams coming from the Midwest, then that probably means I've found at least one one of those bugs in my apartment.

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    1. Neurotic Workaholic, I'm glad you visited because I don't think anyone would appreciate this poem (besides my husband) more than you!
      Hope you avoid cockroaches. I think between being on the first floor and near the garbage chute, we were bound to have them. NYC is warmer than where you live too. We would sign up for spraying once a month, but they'd show up about a week before the 30 days were up for the next spray.

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  5. Fantastic poem. And it brings back memories of my first apartment with my husband. He was mad it was an attic apartment where he couldn't stand up everywhere and how much Ann Arbor rent cost.

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    1. Natalie, I can see an attic apartment being a problem! But there's something nice about being in the middle of everything going on, even when it costs a fortune!

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  6. Yeah, those beginnings were never perfect, but we didn't notice.
    Except I would've noticed the cockroaches. And made them pay rent.

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    1. Alex, so true. I loved it there, even with its drawbacks.

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  7. Thanks for the story. I've never been to New York, but a lot of what you say applies to many places.

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    1. Lisa, I agree. City apartments have some universal aspects.

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  8. Aww. I'm sure he loved his birthday poem. Sounds like a perfectly lovely time in your lives, cockroaches & all.

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  9. There is something romantic about the first apartment, isn't there? Ours was so drafty and the bathroom was so tiny that you could sit on the toilet and brush your teeth over the sink at the same time. We weren't picky back then though.

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    1. LR, yes, there is something romantic about a first apartment. Your first one sounds like our third apartment. I was pregnant there. Shaving my legs in the shower stall was a challenge! I should write a post about that strange place.

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  10. The strange paradoxes of tiny apartment living ...the absolute necessity of getting out and about captured beautifully.....

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    1. Kutamun, it's so true about getting out. On summer days, we'd either visit Long Island or head to parks. The city streets made everything that much hotter. And then there was the summer of the garbage strike....

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  11. I am so reminded of my days in a London apartment without the cockroaches. We get the cockroaches now though in the tropical climate! Wonderful write. Thank you.

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  12. ah yes- youth and sketchy living....

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  13. Aw! What a wonderful poem and perfect bday present - a reminder of those early close days when everything was an adventure :) I grew up in the city, so have fond memories of the sights and sounds... even the garbage trucks which were fun when we were kids :)

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    1. Susanna, I liked growing up in the city too. But when I went to the beach with my cousins on the weekend, I was a little jealous of the extra space and easy access to water. As an adult, I prefer the city.

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  14. Strong, powerful writing; well done.

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  15. Oh I'm so envious of your past. I'd love to even see New York, much less live there with a loved one. What memories you must have.

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    1. Michael, I hope you get to see New York someday.

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  16. Ah, memories. My first apartment on my own was roach-infested. It was also freezing in the winter since there were no thermostats in the units, but controlled by the building. It was always blowing cold air.

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    1. Medeia, it's lousy to not have control over heat--especially when it's too cold! Our first place was too hot. Our third place was too cold. The heater didn't even work in the bedroom! Maybe I can write a poetry series about quirky apartments....

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  17. Bliss and cockroaches...ah true love...

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  18. Life was so much more simple during the harder times in our lives.... Loved your post!

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    1. Sharon, it certainly was. All the phases are special for different reasons.

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  19. Yes, Theresa, all the phases of life together are special. I also loved your poem about your first personal space. Happy birthday to your gallant husband. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. "Those were the days" made me laugh. I've been in similar times and places and hope I never have to go back. But in my youth what the heck--it was freedom in a peculiar sort of way.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Arlee, I feel like every place I live in has some challenges I just live with. Our third apartment was where the wasps came to die in the fall and mushrooms grew in the bathroom. I feel another poem coming on....

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  21. A wonderful write and what a special birthday gift too! Well one.

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  22. I think many of us have had a place like your first apartment. They are definitely memorable and we learn a lot while living there. I love that you found so many favorite places to eat- especially after reading about the dangerous gourmet meal! :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Jess, roaches are a part of NYC-living. We just try not to think about it too much!

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